With major changes coming to NASCAR in the 2017 season Dale Earnhardt Jr. says 'everybody just chill'. USA TODAY Sports
CHARLOTTE — NASCAR on Monday unveiled a detailed overhaul of its competitive model that series officials hope fans will distill to one premise: performance throughout individual races and the regular season will be relevant to the championship run.
Whether older fans already disgruntled with a culture of change are willing to give the new system a chance remains to be seen. But it is clearly an attempt to make the sport more digestible for a new generation unwilling to log four hours watching motorsports.
Under the new format unveiled for all three national touring series, races will be divided into three stages, with the top 10 drivers in the running order at the first two breaks awarded points, from 10 for the leader to one for 10th place. Races will be halted at a pre-determined lap decided by the length and size of the track. At the end of the race, the winner will be awarded 40 points, the second-place driver 35, with descending values to 35th place. The 36th-40th place drivers will receive one point.
A major change in the system is that drivers also will earn bonus points, or championship points, during the 26-race regular season: 15 for the regular-season championship; 15 for finishing in the top 10 at the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway; five for each victory; and one for each stage win. Those bonus points will establish playoff seeding for the final 10 races and carry over into the 10-race playoff.
Drivers still would qualify for the playoffs under the current system — the Chase nomenclature is gone — by virtue of a win or by finishing in the top 16 in points without a win. The 16 drivers who qualify for the championship run will maintain those playoff bonus points through each of the three elimination rounds before the points are reset for the four-driver finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
NASCAR officials and series stakeholders have been working on changes since last summer.
“Simply put, this will make our great racing even better,” NASCAR chairman Brian France said in a release. “I’m proud of the unprecedented collaboration from our industry stakeholders, each of whom had a common goal – strengthening the sport for our fans. This is an enhancement fully rooted in teamwork, and the result will be an even better product every single week.”
The Daytona 500 and its preliminaries will have added value with a win in each of the Duels worth 10 points in the series standings. The Daytona 500, therefore, could be worth 70 points: a Duels win (10), a 500 win (40) and winning both segments (10 apiece). Other races would max out at 60 points.